600 Scots health jobs to go

Up to 600 jobs are to go at three hospitals in the Grampian region as Scotland switches to community care.

The jobs - 370 permanent and 225 temporary posts - will disappear over three years as the closure of the Kingseat mental illness hospital and the Woodlands hospital for those with mental handicap are completed. The hospitals, which once housed 200 and 500 patients respectively, are down to 50 and 120 patients each.

Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of Grampian Healthcare, said the job losses would be offset by the recruitment of more community psychiatric nurses and other staff.

'Scotland has moved more slowly in running down its long-stay institutions than England,' Mr Taylor said. 'The care-in-the-community initiative has now increased the pace of change.'

Relocation and retraining would account for some of the job losses, Mr Taylor said. Grampian Healthcare, Scotland's largest NHS Trust, shed 400 jobs last year.

Arduthie, a small cottage hospital, will also close as services are developed at Stonehaven. Bob Hughes, the Labour MP for Aberdeen, attacked the job losses as Mr Taylor argued the programme was the result of the success of community care.